Well, Like I said, I wasn't unhappy with the Shure. I actually like that lush midrange. I know its not very hi-fi, but it sounds nice. I wonder if the now deceased V15's had that same quality? An NOS one might be an idea if one comes up.
In the new Absolute Sound review of the Ortofon 2M Red ($99) and Black ($599) cartridges, Neil Gader writes that the Black should easily replace the Shure V15s out that that are getting long in the tooth. He said these Ortofons have that seductive Shure-like midrange while being more extended at both ends and cleaner and faster in the bass. And that even goes for the $99 2M Red, so pricewise it's even a worthy successor to the M97xE.
My price/performance dollar is on the Blue, which upgrades the Red to a nude stylus and lists at $199.